Rep. Weaver’s Black History Month Spotlight

For the fourth and final installment of my #BlackHistoryMonth spotlight in 2024, I am highlighting John H. Gwynn Jr. Gwynn worked tirelessly to end segregation in the Peoria area, and he is known as Peoria’s Martin Luther King Jr. for his efforts.

Gwynn was a native of Tennessee who moved to Peoria in the 1950s. He became President of the Peoria Chapter of the NAACP in 1961, serving more than 30 years in that position until retiring in 1993. He was also the Illinois NAACP President for 20-plus years.

Gwynn led peaceful protests in the community, including campaigns that fought against segregation in businesses, education, and housing. His activism, sit-ins, and peaceful protests also helped to open up job opportunities for minorities. Gwynn was elected President of the Illinois NAACP in 1968, putting him in charge of 120 branches across the state.

The Peoria Park District’s John H. Gwynn Jr. Park is located next to the Carver Recreation Center in downtown Peoria. The park includes baseball fields, basketball courts, picnic tables, sand volleyball courts, soccer fields, and hiking trails. Also located in the park is the Gwynn Family Aquatic Center.

For more information on John H. Gwynn Jr, visit these links:

Peoria famous Black residents: Annie Malone, Preston Jackson and more (

John H. Gwynn Jr. Park – Peoria Park District (

Change and the Community Conscience | Peoria Magazine

Video | Facebook